Introduction: Mediastinal lymphadenopathy in patients with an extrathoracic malignancy is a common clinical scenario. Invasive sampling of intrathoracic lymph nodes may be performed by mediastinoscopy or endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration. Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) is an alternative to mediastinoscopy and endoscopic ultrasound in patients with lung cancer and sarcoidosis. The utility of EBUS-TBNA in patients with extrathoracic malignancy was evaluated.
Methods: Consecutive patients who were suspected to have intrathoracic lymph node metastases from an extrathoracic malignancy underwent EBUS-TBNA. When EBUS-TBNA did not provide a specific diagnosis, patients underwent mediastinoscopy or clinical follow-up of at least 6 months duration.
Results: One hundred sixty-one patients meeting the inclusion criteria underwent EBUS-TBNA in five UK centers over a 3-year period. EBUS-TBNA diagnosed mediastinal or hilar metastases in 71 (44%) patients, new lung cancer in 20 (12%) patients, and sarcoidosis in 14 (9%) patients. The sensitivity, negative predictive value for malignancy, and overall accuracy for EBUS-TBNA were 87%, 73% and 88%, respectively. One hundred ten (68%) patients in the study had a final diagnosis of malignant intrathoracic lymphadenopathy.
Conclusion: Because of the high prevalence of alternative diagnoses, pathological evaluation is important in patients with extrathoracic malignancy and suspected mediastinal or hilar lymph node metastases. EBUS-TBNA is a safe and sensitive technique and may be considered a first-line investigation in these patients.